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  • Irish Dominate Navy

    by John Vannie

    Notre Dame unveiled a powerful running attack and used its size and speed advantage to crush Navy by 50-10 on Saturday in Dublin, Ireland. The Irish rolled up nearly 500 yards of offense  – almost 300 of it on the ground – as quarterback Everett Golson engineered a balanced and efficient game plan. Theo Riddick and George Atkinson, Jr. ran for over 200 yards while Golson was 11 of 17 for 153 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Notre Dame’s defensive front seven forced turnovers and shut down the outmanned Midshipmen in an impressive performance.

    The Irish took the opening kickoff and ripped through Navy’s defense with a mix of runs and crisp passes. Riddick capped the 75-yard march with an 11-yard burst. The first of two missed extra points kept the score at 6-0. Navy tried to answer with a drive of its own, but Manti Te’o and friends stuffed quarterback Trey Miller on a fourth and one at the Notre Dame 30. Four plays later, Atkinson cut back a sweep and broke into the clear, easily outrunning the Midshipmen secondary for a 56-yard score and a 13-0 lead after only 12 minutes had expired.

    Golson hit DeVaris Daniels on the next possession for a 35 yard gain to set up the next Irish score early in the second period. The drive was capped by Golson’s first career touchdown pass, a five yard fade to Tyler Eifert. Navy then put together a drive with an assist from a facemask penalty, but Miller let the ball slip out of his hand under pressure from Ishaq Williams. Stephon Tuitt picked it up and rumbled 77 yards for score to make it 27-0 late in the quarter. The Midshipmen got on the board as the half ended on a short field goal by Nick Sloan, but poor clock management negated a chance to score a touchdown.

    Navy did throw a scare into the Irish fan base in the third quarter when they took the kickoff and marched 75 yards with relative ease on three pass plays. Miller hit Shawn Lynch from 25 yards for the score, beating KeiVarae Russell to the post. With its lead cut to 27-10, Notre Dame cranked up the offense and moved smartly downfield with a mix of runs and passes. Troy Niklas and T.J. Jones made key receptions before Atkinson walked in from three yards out. A second extra point was missed due to a botched hold and the Irish lead was 33-10. When Riddick scored again a few minutes later to make it 40-10, it was time to clear the bench.

    Nick Tausch added a field goal in the fourth quarter after Andrew Hendrix came in at quarterback. After Williams forced another fumble, Robby Toma capped the scoring with a nine yard run in the final minute. Navy could not mount a threat after its success early in the second half, primarily due to turnovers and relentless pressure by the Irish front. Although Miller was 14 of 19 for 197 yards, much of that was earned in the 75 yard sequence. Miller suffered one interception, had a fumble returned for a touchdown by Tuitt, was sacked three times and pressured on several occasions.

    Notre Dame played a clean game with very few penalties and mistakes. As hoped, Golson was protected from pressure and was not asked to perform superhuman tasks. The plays were run with good tempo with only a couple of exceptions where timeouts were required.

    Let’s review our pregame questions to see how the Irish fared overall.

    Will Riddick and Atkinson gain enough rushing yards to compensate for the loss of Wood? Definitely. The pair accounted for more than 200 yards, and Cam McDaniel also ran well in fourth quarter duty.

    Can Navy’s offense control the clock and manage the scoreboard? Not at all. The Middies were forced to the air, which is not their sweet spot. Their best drive of the first half resulted in a turnover and score by Tuitt.

    Will one or more of the Irish wide receivers emerge as a reliable target in the post-Michael Floyd era? The downfield passing game was not featured or required in this game, but Daniels looked good at times and Jones made a couple of nice gains after the catch. All three tight ends also contributed.

    How will Notre Dame’s cornerbacks handle the multiple challenges of an option offense? The secondary struggled in defending the edge against the pitch due to missed tackles, and overall coverage was poor at times. This group will be tested extensively as the season progresses.

    Can Golson demonstrate the play-making ability with his arm and legs that won him the starting job? Yes, his passes were crisp and mostly accurate. Only once did he lock onto a receiver and throw it late, resulting in an interception. He did extend plays with his quickness but was not forced to scramble often.

    How will Notre Dame’s players and coaches handle adversity during the contest? After Navy scored quickly to open the second half, the Irish put together a solid drive to retake control of the ballgame.

    Will Notre Dame’s performance be good enough to keep me awake throughout the game? Yes, but the Irishman who did the jig in the end zone turned in the second best play of the game after Atkinson’s 56-yard romp. I’m also a sucker for David Feherty’s schtick.

    Notre Dame will open the home version of its season next week against Purdue, and it was good to get Golson’s debut out of the way in such a successful and stress-free manner. The running game appears very solid and should help the young quarterback settle in before bigger tests loom on the schedule. As compared to where the program stood after last year’s opener, this season is already a lot more fun.

    28 Responses to “Irish Dominate Navy”

    1. A good game by the Irish and a whole lot of fun to watch. There is certainly a shift in the way the offense is run, and I think this adjustment of Kelly’s spread could evolve into a very potent weapon.

      I really liked Golson’s confidence in those short passes. Last year I saw way too many lob passes that resulted in the defense closing long before the slot receivers had a chance to break open. Golson’s timing on those swing routes could really open up the defense and allow our track stars to get steps towards the open field.

      Speaking of track stars, I think we’re done talking about that lack of team speed that separated Notre Dame from top SEC programs. There is a lot of young talent on this team and I really like that Kelly has enough trust to put them on the field. For all the fallout from his comments about “his” guys last year, I don’t think it is a stretch to say that this team does seem to have a very different identity than those in years past. Even the seniors play seem to approach things differently. I loved to see Riddick punish those would-be tacklers. I don’t remember him ever really running through people last year, but today he was certainly not shying away from contact.

      The turnovers and mistakes were still present to a certain extent, but mistakes happen, especially on opening day. Maybe I’m taking more than I should from a blowout victory, but I like the fact that the defense made plays and forced turnovers that turned the tide of the game. There was no deflation after the interception or the quick second half Navy touchdown, and I think this could be the biggest and most important change for the Irish.

      Let’s not lie. The corners are terrifying. I’m going to tell myself that the defensive gameplan was such that it didn’t necessarily mind giving up yards through the air, but still….Russell looked every bit as young as his true freshman status. Let’s hope when those safeties aren’t looking to defend the option they’ll be able to shore up that defensive backfield. Another bright spot was Manti’s improved pass coverage, which could give Diaco some flexibility against the throw.

      I don’t know what this game shows yet, but I’ll be happy if I see this spirit and execution from the coaches and players for the rest of the season. The team is young and may be over-matched throughout this schedule, but I feel good that there is something deeply different about the spirit and athleticism of the squad.

    2. GA III showed that “take it to the house” speed we expected. Glad Hendrix got some meaningful snaps and led one TD drive. Also Glad that BK let Roby Toma score that last TD. GO IRISH Beat Boilers!!

    3. I thought it was very interesting to watch some subtle differences when Hendrix came in the game. Golson ran a lot of two tight end one back sets. Plenty of power. Hendrix ran a couple of zone reads which when combined with the jet sweep options seem to be a little more like the spread that you saw with Troy Smith at OSU, Vince Young and others including Tebow. I would assume that Golson could run some of that, but we did not feature it at all today. Hopefully we were keeping some things under wraps.

      That said, I think I will be screaming at the TV a lot this year when teams pass. We are going to miss Shepard and Darby. Wood’s loss may be devastating.

      Enjoyed a nice beatdown today though. Wish the Middies well and Godspeed.

      • I think the difference in what we saw from Golson and Hendrix was that Hendrix was sent in to run the more traditional ND offense than what was drawn up specifically for Golson to run against Navy, meaning that I do think the sets we saw Hendrix run, and we will see a lot more with Golson as we play more traditional style opponents.

    4. Good opening victory and loved the smashmouth football.

    5. Good way to start the season IRISH!! Need to keep improving each week!!! Go IRISH!!!

    6. JasonC in PC says:

      Week 1 down and the Irish have a doughnut in the loss column, could’nt ask for a better start, even if it is against an undersized Navy squad. I agree with the rest about the Irish secondary but do pose the question, how much time do you think the Irish spent game planning for the long ball this week? My guess would be 25% during the game week practice. This is not an excuse for the poor play but is something to think about, the scout team probably did’nt throw down field too often last week, and we have all heard we practice how we play. This week will be much more demanding for the secondary, and we will see an improvment from week 1 to week 2. All in all great game Irish; Here’s to many more Saturday afternoon’s enjoying football after wins! Wake up the Echos!!!!!!!!

    7. Everett Golson…undefeated as a starter!

    8. The Irish looked professional taking care of business over an undersized team. I think this is the first solid opener showing by the Irish in about 5-6 years, which is a good sign. CB will definitely be a major issue throughout the season with throwing QBs. Let´s hope that Diaco has game plan to rush the passer fst and consistent and force easy mistakes that the Irish may capitalize. But the team definitely felt with a different demeanor. The true test to this will start with Michigan State, but onward to 2-0! GO IRISH!

    9. Fun game to watch. Golson seemed very comfortable as the QB and the team responded to him. The interception did not deflate the team and was nothing more than an opening day mistake – unlike the “Oh, no” turnovers of years past where the team quickly went into the tank mentally. This could be a very special team if our defensive backs can learn how to play the ball in the air the way Alabama’s DBs did against Michigan. Purdue will be a tough game but I think this team and coaching staff are up to the task now.

    10. martinjordan says:

      This was a good start and much better than Kelly’s first two season openners. There were many positives but plenty of room for growth.

      1. ND has excellent dpth at running back.
      2. It was only Navy but the offensive line looked excellent.
      3. We didn’t need to see any of Golson’s mobility and he managed the game well.
      4. Except for Koyack’s drop the Tight End depth is excellent.
      5. Wide Receivers are still a question mark.
      6. The kicking game is very shakey with two missed extra points and punt returns are still an adventure.
      7. It’s only Navy but the defensive front seven was awesome.
      8. That face mask penalty on Shembo was bad as Nix was there too.
      9. Teo is a stud.
      10. The defensive backfield is a huge question mark. Let’s hope they turn their heads and go after the ball when Dennard Robinson just throws it up for grabs.

      • AGREE!
        Disappointed in the special teams play especially compared to what I saw from Alabama and M. No excuse for poor kickoff coverage, lackluster punts and botched extra points.

    11. Note a bad game overall, but the secondary is terrible. Navy had some excellent movement at times through the air. Now let’s think about this. Navy moving the ball through the air? Huh! So, the Irish have to be very concerned if they are going to even go 6 – 6 with such a weak secondary. Let’s hope that they can be ‘trained-up’ very shortly and injuries to not further decimate an already weak secondary. I was raised just outside of Annapolis. I hate to see the Irish lose to Navy, so you may say I am a happy camper this Sunday. I fear for other Sunday mornings after the Purdue game!

    12. For 50 yrs, I have loved “Notre dame” & I will continue to do so. Therefore, yesterday’s game was terrific. However, Their secondary is apalling and I’m terrified that, if I was an opposing coach, I would fill the air with footballs because they can’t stop anyone and good or great passers as they will be meeting this year,will have a field day. Obviuosly, if opposing teams score at will through the air, it places tremendous pressure on the offense to score more and if the opponent has a good defense, it’s a loss for us. Please remember Ara Parsheian took a 2 & 6 team from 1963 to a 8 & 1 in 1964. The upshot of this is we are looking at a 7 & 5 season unless the secondary suddenly becomes great a la Alabama. I still love ND and I always will but defense wins ball games, not offense.

    13. While its too early to say this is points to a huge season, it was a pleasure to watch a well managed, well executed game plan with few errors. That is a good omen.

      Like Martin, who wrote earlier, I have list to offer.

      1. We looked more polished and just better in all phases, except pass coverage.
      2. I think our line play will be strong all year and match us well with even our best opponents.
      3. Did everyone note how many players contributed and looked good!
      4. With Wood and Carlisle both coming back soon, the running game is very strong.
      5. Is it possible that with so many solid players in the skill positions, that we might be hard to defend down the road–as people gain confidence?
      6. While we have no deep threat, the wide receiving group has fine ability.
      7. Is it possible that the CBs are maybe not as bad as they looked some of time; since I must believe they did not prepare an elaborate passing game plan for Navy?
      8. If receivers grow over the next few games AND Gholson does the same; including becoming somewhat of a running threat, we might be difficult even for the better teams.

      Great potential

      Go Irish.

    14. The secondary looked terrible but that’s because they are young and inexperienced.

      I hope

      Otherwise they kicked ass just as they should have.

      When are the roster photos of this team gonna be posted?

    15. greekirish says:

      Love to see all ND fans unite and be happy after a victory.

    16. “ . . . this season is already a lot more fun.” Sure it is.

      Just wait until the Irish play the “real competition” with speed on offense and defense – and quarterbacks that can pick apart the weak secondary. It’s not going to be fun. And another year will be gone without a National Championship.

      The new Notre Dame Football: A Tradition of Pageantry and Celebration of What Used to Be.

      • Old Notre Dame Football Fans: A Tradition of Complaining about Things that Haven’t Even Happened yet.

        I’m not actually sure that’s called a fan, sounds more like a grouch.

        • Just an alum with a real sense of history and reality. Have “fun” with your vision of Notre Dame football.

    17. Gosh, I really wanted Shepard and Darby here. And, I still have serious questions about why neither of them wanted to come when they would have been starting on TV every week, as true freshmen. But, that’s not going to help us. And, more importantly, we did what we were supposed to do. We used our size/strength/athleticism advantage to manhandle them up front on both sides of the ball. That is a huge change from 5-7 years ago. So, kudos. (Doing what you’re supposed to do is worth praise.) Our main mission on defense HAD to be to stop the option attack, in all of its forms. We did that. We forced them to throw. Too bad they had success with it. I also agree with the comment by JasonC that the secondary probably did not have a lot of practice with the deep throws (because they were concentrating on job #1). I hope to see more running of the football on offense and an aggressive front 7 on defense against Purdue. If we have that, we should win. After that, I think that an aggressive front 7 can lead to turnovers against teams, because their QB’s will have to throw quickly, and our safeties can ball hawk. (Perfect against Robinson.) I am ready for Kelly’s offense to start “out-scoring” people (like he did in Cincy). Let’s hope our receivers can generate some separation and provide the QB’s some open targets.

    18. A great dubya! Impressive fun to watch!
      A lot more impressive than that S.Florida disaster I witnessed in S.Bend last year. Finally,I say finally I think this team is on the right track. Just beat Michigan this year!!!

    19. Motta is WAY too stiff and slow.

    20. Not sure secondary as bad as people think. Nobody was open on the pick. Sacked the qb three times and they were coverage sacks. They are still the biggest concern coming out of this game, but I wouldn’t take us to 7-5 for that reason.

    21. irishhawk50 says:

      Hard to say what to make of this game as Navy really looked like one of the I-AA creampuffs that the SEC tunes up on, Having said that it would be nice to have them on the schedule to open every year, but Temple will do for next year.

      Like all the other posters here I was crying for Gary Gray after watching watching Navy (!!) pass its way into the end zone in three plays.

      The running game looked really good but with the holes the O line was blasting into an undersized Navy D again hard to say.

      Golson was OK and no one here wants to hear it but TR would have done just as well.

      Lou Holtz always said the biggest jump a team makes is between game one and game two, let’s hope so.

      After watching Alabama crush Michigan and Michigan State just get by a weakened Boise State and reading about Stanford just getting by San Jose State, the schedule looks more manageable.

      I will be much more interested in watching the Purdue game next week than the Navy game this week and it will be at a decent hour. Go Irish!

    22. Honestly, that was the best I’ve seen the Irish play in a while. I was going to say the 2010 Sun Bowl where we spanked Miami but this game was better than that. Even when we played our bench we were dominating. It was four quarters of quality football, something that ND has struggled to do even in big wins. Go Irish.

    23. SubwayAlum_2012 says:

      Pertaining to Martin’s play calling: I doubt we will see much more variance all season than what happened Saturday. I played college linebacker against Grand Valley State when they were coached by Chuck, and film study was ALWAYS a half hour shorter for the fact that he doesn’t run complex offense: under center, multiple TEs inside/outside zone, or shotgun empty, verticals with a RB or TE in the flat. Against Navy, I was calling 85% of ND’s plays pre-snap, but it didn’t matter as the O-line looked solid, and the RB’s went crazy. I also played college ball against the double wing, triple option in Northwood University, and I will say the best defense against the option is a simple one that allows LBs and Safetys to fly and make plays. I could care less about the 75 yard drive to start the 3rd; it broke EVERY Navy tendency since Roger Staubach, and notice how they didn’t score again the rest of the game. The CBs are young, yes, but I believe they’ll get more help in subsequent weeks from ND going back to their base 3-4 (ran a 4-3 against Navy) and the Dick LeBeau style blizes that come with said defense. Overall, I’m happy ND won big, regardless of opponent. Navy is always tough. PERIOD. Now lets go 1-0 this week agasint the Boilermakers!

    24. It’s all a big tease. They will choke – and choke hard – before you know it.

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